Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald
Nobody knows the real story.
Actually, that's not quite true—I exaggerate for effect sometimes. (My father says it's a hereditary flaw in my character.) Freddie knows most of the truth, and so do Diana and Bill and Greg. But except for Jay, who isn't talking, nobody knows everything that happened except for me and Mr. Castillo, and we aren't talking either. Unless you count this notebook, and nobody's going to read that but me.
The day it all started, Freddie and I had been gathering firewood most of the afternoon. We were ten days into the big backpacking trip ("we" is the Sunset Hills Junior High Ecology Club, our faculty sponsor Mrs. Castillo, and her husband) and we were going to have a bonfire that evening, to celebrate reaching the halfway mark right on schedule.
But that afternoon we'd come to a stretch of ground that had been all burnt over about twenty years back, and so far the second growth hadn't gotten past the underbrush and sapling stage. Gathering enough sticks and kindling for a really big fire turned out to be quite a job—especially since Mr. Castillo didn't seem to think that any stack of wood shorter than the person who gathered it was enough, even for the little fires we usually built.